Meet ACM's Palomar Ensemble

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Palomar is the performance wing of ACM, a Chicago-based music ensemble specializing in the performance of the music of living composers. Led by Artistic Director Francesco Milioto, Palomar performs in diverse venues throughout the Chicago area including the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, Chicago Cultural Center, the Empty Bottle, Green Mill and many more.

In addition to performing throughout Chicago, Palomar has been invited to perform on festivals and other contemporary music events throughout the world including the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the Conservatoire Claude Debussy in Paris, Stanford University’s Pan-Asian Festival and UNAM in Mexico City among others.

Chicago

The Chicago Tribune names Francesco Milioto “one of the best young conductors working in the Chicago area.” Since his debut in the Chicago area just over a decade ago he now balances a busy career conducting a wide range of orchestral and operatic repertoire while maintaining a full schedule as a pianist and vocal coach.

The Chicago Tribune names Francesco Milioto “one of the best young conductors working in the Chicago area.” Since his debut in the Chicago area just over a decade ago he now balances a busy career conducting a wide range of orchestral and operatic repertoire while maintaining a full schedule as a pianist and vocal coach.

He currently holds the positions of Co-founder/Conductor of the New Millennium Orchestra, Music Director of the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Chicago Cultural Center Summer Opera, Principal Conductor of the Highland Park Strings and Artistic Director/Conductor of Access Contemporary Music.

Mr. Milioto is an assistant conductor/rehearsal pianist/prompter for the Ravinia Festival, where he works closely with Maestro James Conlon. During both the 2009 and 2010 Chicago Opera Theater seasons he served as an assistant conductor/rehearsal pianist, and also chorus master. Mr. Milioto makes regular appearances as a guest conductor with Opera Elgin and Opera on the James in Lynchburg, VA. As Artistic Director and Conductor of Access Contemporary Music, Mr. Milioto is in command of the brilliantly vibrant ensemble Palomar, which has been featured on the radio and in performances through the city and abroad. Especially exciting are ACM’s Composer ALIVE project and the Sound of Silent Film performances.

Mr. Milioto is very proud of the work ACM does in nurturing new composers, and performing many new works each season by living composers through Chicago. Mr. Milioto is particularly proud of his work with the New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago, which he helped to co-found in 2005. The NMO has an incredible range of repertoire, playing everything from classical music and opera to collaborations with jazz and hip-hop artists. In addition to regular appearances at the Chicago Cultural Center, performing programs of orchestral, opera and chamber music; this young dynamic group has successfully debuted on both the Ravinia Festival Kraft Kid’s Series and the Harris Theater Family Series with innovative programs like D.J Beethoven and Hip Hopera, both created by Mr. Milioto.

In addition to its regular activities the NMO has debuted two different concert series this season at the Cliff Dweller Club and at Architectural Artifacts. The NMO also maintains a residency at Columbia College where Mr. Milioto leads concerts featuring music by students in the Music for the Screen program. Now in his fourth season as Music Director of the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra Mr. Milioto will lead programs featuring Act III of Puccini’s La Boheme, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Young Artist Competition winner Kate Liu, an all Beethoven program highlighted by Symphonies No. 3 and No. 8, and a final concert featuring Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 the Pathétique.

During his tenure Mr. Milioto has enjoyed an enthusiastic response to his unique musicianship and wide range of repertoire. In addition to building on the history of high quality performances, the past seasons have seen a successful return to concert opera, and the creation of free concerts for local school children. His work with the Highland Park Strings ranges from the earliest string music to the romantic and contemporary.

As Principal Conductor, Mr. Milioto has had the pleasure to work with many international soloists including Janos Starker, David Shifrin, Inna Faliks, Angela Cheng, Rachel Barton-Pine and Chicago Symphony Orchestra members Mathieu Dufour and Eugene Izotov. Mr. Milioto is looking forward to concerts featuring CSO concert master Robert Chen in Beethoven’s Violin concerto, Beethoven Symphony No. 7, Liszt’s Les Preludes and Piano Concerto No. 1, as well as Brahms Symphony No. 4. As an opera conductor, Mr. Milioto has led nine productions to critical acclaim at the Chicago Cultural Center, which include Le Nozze di Figaro, Candide, Dido and Aeneas, The Magic Flute, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges.

He led the Cultural Center’s most recent production of Acis and Galatea from the harpsichord which had its final performance at the prestigious Pritzker Pavillion in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Mr. Milioto has conducted five productions in Virginia with Opera on the James, and led several gala concerts and productions with Opera Elgin in collaboration with the New Millennium Orchestra. As an assistant conductor and rehearsal pianist at the Ravinia Festival he has been involved in seven operas and various other orchestral and vocal projects working alongside Daniel Barenboim (2004) and James Conlon (2005-present).

In addition to working along side great conductors at Ravinia, Mr. Milioto has also had the opportunity to work with world-class artists such as Placido Domingo, Kiri te Kanawa, Samuel Ramey, Lynn Harrell, James Galway, Patricia Racette, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Ana Maria Martinez, and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo. Mr. Milioto also worked at Chicago Opera Theater as an assistant conductor/rehearsal pianist for both Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers (featuring Frederica von Stade), and Peter Brook’s version of Bizet’s Carmen, before returning to work as an assistant conductor and chorus master for Rossini’s Mosé in Egitto.

Chicago

Hülya Alpakin is a native of Turkey and holds a Bachelor`s degree in piano from Istanbul State Conservatory, a Master`s degree in piano performance, and an Artist Diploma, both from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. She has been performing internationally as soloist, as part of ensembles, and as accompanist.

Hülya Alpakin is a native of Turkey and holds a Bachelor`s degree in piano from Istanbul State Conservatory, a Master`s degree in piano performance, and an Artist Diploma, both from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. She has been performing internationally as soloist, as part of ensembles, and as accompanist.

Her performances were featured on the radio and as well as on records, among them compositions especially dedicated to her. Hülya studied piano with distinguished Turkish pianist Hülya Saydam, pianist, orchestra conductor, and composer Serdar Yalcin, Professor Esin Kanberoglu, Dr. Ludmila Lazar, and internationally well known pianist Graham Scott. Hülya has more than 20 years of continuous professional piano teaching experience.

Hülya teaches at several music schools in the Chicago area. Also, she has been invited several times as a judge to the Roberta Savler Piano Contest of the Chicago Area Music Teachers Association (CAMTA). Hülya has been performing as an ensemble member of Palomar with Access Contemporary Music (ACM) for the last 8 years.

Chicago

Alyson Berger, cellist, is an active free-lance performer and recitalist in the Chicago area. A native of New York, she began studying cello at the age of 7 and made her orchestral debut at the age of 16 with New York`s Orchestra de Camera playing the Lalo Concerto.

Alyson Berger, cellist, is an active free-lance performer and recitalist in the Chicago area. A native of New York, she began studying cello at the age of 7 and made her orchestral debut at the age of 16 with New York`s Orchestra de Camera playing the Lalo Concerto.

In NY she went on to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music and Ithaca College and spent summers at the Meadowmount School and the Ithaca Violoncello Institute. After completing her undergraduate work at Ithaca she accepted a position in the Bloomfield String Quartet-a quartet that serves to promote classical/chamber music performance and education in Kansas. While working with the quartet she earned her Master`s Degree from Wichita State University and was a member of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and a finalist in the Naftzger Young Artist Competition.

After teaching/performing in New York, she relocated to Chicago and has performed with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony and the Northwest Indiana Symphony and has performed as guest soloist with the Ravenswood Community Orchestra. As a contemporary chamber musician in Chicago she has performed with CUBE, New Music DePaul and is proud to be a founding member of ACM and its performing group Palomar.

She has been featured on the Sunday Salon series at Chicago's Cultural Center, the PianoForte Salon Series and Live from Studio One on WFMT. She has traveled and performed in Europe, Mexico and Asia; most recently this summer (2010) in Tokyo, Japan. Her teachers include Mildred Johnson, Einar Holm (Ithaca College), Mark Evans (National Symphony), William Cernota (Lyric Opera)and Diane Chaplain(Colorado Quartet). She has performed in Master Classes for Jerry Grossman, Carter Brey and Takayori Atsumi.

Alyson has been a faculty member at VanderCook College of music in Chicago and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan and currently has a large studio of students in Evanston IL.

Chicago

Christie Miller received the Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet from the University of Houston and the Master of Music Performance degree at DePaul University where she studied with Larry Combs. Christie has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony, Access Contemporary Music, The Music Institute of Chicago’s Four Score Festival, Chicago Clarinet Ensemble, and Fulcrum Point New Music Project among others.

Christie Miller received the Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet from the University of Houston and the Master of Music Performance degree at DePaul University where she studied with Larry Combs. Christie has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony, Access Contemporary Music, The Music Institute of Chicago’s Four Score Festival, Chicago Clarinet Ensemble, and Fulcrum Point New Music Project among others.

Christie is the Director of the Office of Cultural Events at Northeastern Illinois University and has also served as an adjunct instructor teaching Music Concepts. She is an active freelance musician in Chicago and performs regularly as a member of the Palomar ensemble. An avid sailor, Christie has completed the Race from Chicago to Mackinac Island 13 times and also enjoys taking Spanish classes at Northeastern and guitar classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Chicago

Alicia Poot Kelly enjoys a varied freelance career in orchestral and chamber music, having performed with the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Southwest Michigan, and Northwest Indiana Symphonies as well as the Pine Mountain Music Festival, the Lira Ensemble, The Irish Tenors, Highland Park Strings, Chicago Composers Orchestra, and Chicago-based chamber groups Anaphora and International Chamber Artists.

Alicia Poot Kelly enjoys a varied freelance career in orchestral and chamber music, having performed with the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Southwest Michigan, and Northwest Indiana Symphonies as well as the Pine Mountain Music Festival, the Lira Ensemble, The Irish Tenors, Highland Park Strings, Chicago Composers Orchestra, and Chicago-based chamber groups Anaphora and International Chamber Artists.

She joined Palomar in the summer of 2009 and is thrilled to support ACM's initiatives through Palomar. Passionate about teaching, she is a faculty member at both Chicago High School for the Arts and Merit School of Music, and has also worked with young composers by performing student compositions at the Young Composers Program at Cleveland Institute of Music and ACM’s High School Composers Workshop.

She has been a winner or finalist in several competitions and has performed in festivals in Canada and Italy: Orford Arts Centre, Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, Rome Festival, and the Julius Baker Masterclasses. She has studied at DePaul University, The University of Akron (MM), Western Michigan University (BM), and The Catholic University of America. In good weather she can often be seen riding her bike on the lakefront path or around the city.

Evanston

Born in Taiwan, Jeff Yang came to the U.S. at the age of eight and grew up in the Seattle area. He gave his first solo performance with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra at age 19 playing the Vivaldi Four Seasons and later became concertmaster of the Emerald City Philharmonic, an orchestra he helped co-found.

Born in Taiwan, Jeff Yang came to the U.S. at the age of eight and grew up in the Seattle area. He gave his first solo performance with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra at age 19 playing the Vivaldi Four Seasons and later became concertmaster of the Emerald City Philharmonic, an orchestra he helped co-found.

Jeff received Bachelors of Music, Arts, and Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, studying with the renowned concertmaster, Steven Staryk. In 1995, Jeff won the Civic Orchestra of Chicago fellowship and came to Chicago to pursue his Masters of Music from Northwestern University and a Certificate of Performance from DePaul University. In 2000, Jeff became the first violinist of Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues, a fusion group consisting of string quartet, harmonica, piano, and tablas. Jeff toured North America, Mexico, and France with Chamber Blues until 2009 and recorded a live CD on the Alligator label.

Being a versatile musician in several genres, he was asked to become a member of the band Mannheim Steamroller in 2007 as the violin soloist and baroque recorder player, touring nationally on their Christmas and spring shows. In 2009, Jeff was appointed conductor and concertmaster for the operatic pop group, Il Divo for their North America tour. In the classical field, Jeff has also served as concertmasters for the New Millennium Orchestra and Ballet Legere in Chicago, Spoleto Festival Orchestra in Italy, the National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado, as well as assistant concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the International Symphony Orchestra in Israel.

Jeff is an avid promoter of new music and has played with groups such as CUBE, HardArt, Fulcrum Point, and Present Music in Milwaukee. In Chicago, Jeff performs regularly with the Grant Park Symphony, Metropolis Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. He can also be seen on PBS's Soundstage series with Jewel, Faith Hill, Peter Cetera, Dennis DeYoung, Lyle Lovett, Ron Isley, Burt Bacharach, and on the Oprah show with artists such Il Divo, David Foster, and Susan Boyle.

He has also performed live in concert with The Three Tenors, Celine Dion, Kansas, Smokey Robinson, Bernardette Peters, Diana Krall, and Andrea Bocelli. Jeff is the owner of Chicago Strings, a violin shop in Evanston, Illinois.